Chief prosecutor’s office has “strongly denied” mounting pressure on ex-interior minister and former PM Vano Merabishvili, who is now in pre-trial detention.
Merabishvili said at a court hearing in Kutaisi on Tuesday that chief prosecutor, Otar Partskhaladze, told him to help solve the case of death of PM Zurab Zhvania and to provide information about ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili’s “bank accounts”, otherwise threatened with deterioration of his condition in prison and with the arrest of his friends and relatives. Merabishvili said that at about 1:30am on Saturday he was taken out of his prison cell with his head shrouded in his jacket and driven to a location, which he thinks was the office of department of penitentiary system, where the meeting with chief prosecutor took place.
In a written statement prosecutor’s office said Merabishvili’s allegations are “completely absurd.” The statement, which denies mounting pressure on Merabishvili, does not explicitly address a question whether the meeting at all took place or not.
“The chief prosecutor’s office strongly denies exerting any kind of pressure on this person [Merabishvili] and stresses that after the trial into charges against Merabishvili went into its final phase, defendants and their sympathizers are undertaking various actions aimed at misleading public and mounting pressure on participants of the trial,” the prosecutor’s office said referring to the trial in the Kutaisi City Court in connection to criminal charges into alleged funneling of over GEL 5 million of public funds into UNM party’s election campaign last year, when Merabishvili served as PM.
The statement does not elaborate into details, but on December 16 former deputy head of one of the Tbilisi’s districts, Koba Kharshiladze, was arrested on December 16 and charged with illegal entrepreneurship and money laundering. Kharshiladze was chief bodyguard of Zhvania at the time when the former PM was found dead in February, 2005. Arrest of Kharshiladze, although in connection to the case which has nothing to do with Zhvania’s death, triggered speculation that it might be somehow related to the ongoing investigation into Zhvania’s death, which was re-opened after the Georgian Dream came into power late last year.
Prosecutor’s office said that regardless of “all the groundless and unserious statements”, it will carry out “comprehensive and objective investigation.”